I think about my dad every day.
Even though he passed away in 2007, there isn’t a day in which I don’t want to share something with him. He worked hard his whole life—he wasn’t a professional, a college graduate, or even a high school graduate. He and his parents fled Nazi Germany when he was 10, ending up in Shanghai, China with many other European Jews, all of whom had to survive the Japanese occupation until freed by American troops.
This experience made him realize the value of freedom and hard work. He was drafted into the Army after becoming an American citizen, going back to Germany as a translator during that country’s reconstruction. When he got out, he worked as a delivery man, a stockboy in a supermarket, any job that would support him and his young family. He was drawn back into government service as a civilian working in logistics for the Air Force and we ended up back in Germany for my formative teen years.
When he retired from government service, he had many jobs that he hated, but kept working until he could find something better. He eventually found his groove in sales and built a successful Safety Compliance company.
When I was a student at UCLA, I wanted to be a screenwriter like every young person living in LA. But I also loved medicine, and when the time came to choose an educational path, he told me, “As a Doctor, you will have a secure profession you love, and you can always write. If you become a writer, you can’t be a Doctor and you may not have any work!” It seemed harsh at the time, but I thank him every day for that advice. As I head into my final years in medicine, I have been writing, and I have a joy and perspective that goes with age and experience.
Thanks dad.Larry Pollack
It’s almost impossible to select one thing to remember about a parent. For my mom, it was her kitchen and the multitude of delicious favorites that I still hunger for. For my dad, it was his prowess at sports and games. He’d played catcher on a minor league team but that was before I was born. He never hit a golf ball until in his thirties, but quickly became a scratch golfer and the terror of the local courses. After all these years, he still holds the course record and the most holes in one at our local country club. With an earlier start, he’d have been a candidate for the tour.
He was a bear of a guy that threw a bowling ball harder than anyone I’ve ever seen and that might have qualified for the bowling tour – and rolled a pair of 300 games. But despite looks, also had the finesse to take on all comers at our beach house and never lose a game at darts or ping pong. He was the ‘one to try to beat’ at our local clubs at pool and snooker. He was a master at dominoes, poker, and any other card games. He’s the only person, definitely including myself, that was ‘ahead’ of Vegas. Admittedly, that was because he had “taken them to the cleaners” on his last trip to the crap table and then died before he had a chance to return and give it all back.
My brother was much older than me and there was never any competition between us – we were always too busy trying to get the best of “the old man.” We were very largely unsuccessful.
He was in so many ways larger than life.Reeves Motal
I didn’t have enough time with my Dad, but I guess most people could argue the same no matter how old they were when they lost their parent. That being said, although limited, my memories of my Dad are some of my most prized possessions. As I’ve gotten older, there’s one childhood memory of my Dad that has only gotten better and more relatable over time.
The first time I cursed in front of my Dad, I yelled out “Jesus Christ!”, just as I had heard him say countless times. He quickly reacted in shock and couldn’t imagine where I would have ever learned that expression. I politely explained that he was the one who bestowed those teachings onto me. His response was to instate a swear jar in our household so we could all learn the “cost” of swearing. Rules were $1 per swear word. At the end of the first week, I made $400 on that swear jar. Needless to say, that was the first and last week of the swear jar.
I fucking love you, Dad.Amanda Carruthers
Winters in Yonkers, NY were very snowy back in the 1950s. My big brother always had some project he was putting his energies into, and I often ‘helped’.
This one year, the snow reached maybe two feet, with lots of good packing snow, and the yard was begging for more than a snowman. So my brother and I set out to build a snow igloo, creating bricks with what we cut out with a shovel. Dad was always interested in what we were doing, but was more of a summer sunshine guy.
This one day while building the igloo, dad stepped outside to view the project and maybe add his 2 cents on the construction. The very cold, damp, winter air, caused Dad to sneeze so hard, his upper denture became a shooting projectile, flying into the air, landing deep into the fresh fallen snow somewhere in the yard.
I swear we saw steam rise up from the area, which is how we located it, and I can’t remember who wound up retrieving the mouthpiece. But Dad went inside soon after and that was that for the winter.
It was often brought up in conversation years later, much to the chagrin of Dad.Chris Suhre
When I think of the funniest person I know, my dad has always been the first person to come to mind. My nickname for him is “Clown” and it’s a perfect fit. Most of my childhood he was the one creating laughter in any setting and bringing me home treats after work.
It was only later, in more recent years, when I saw my dad’s real emotional side show itself. I’m not sure if he became less guarded or I became more alert. What I do know is that I am so grateful to see this side of this funny, strong and safe man.
It makes him human. It makes him real. It makes him somehow even safer than he ever was.
Happy Father’s Day, Clown. You da best.Jaime Garza
My father was a great guy. He was always making us laugh and was a loving grandfather. He would call us almost daily asking about his granddaughters and checking on whatever new things they did and said for the day. They brought him much joy in his later years.
When my mother was terminally ill he really stepped up to the plate and took good care of her until the end. I had a whole new respect for him and realized what a good man he was.
He was a fun-loving guy who loved to golf and tell jokes. I remember he would always start laughing before he finished telling the joke and constantly screwed up the punchline. I know where I get my sense of humor. He was also an avid golfer and the only guy I know who had 2 holes in one…We will miss him dearly.
Happy Father’s Day to all the great fathers out there!Mike Essrig
My father is alive and well at 87 years old. My favorite thing growing up was running with him. He encouraged me to run around the school track with him when I was 7 or 8 years old, and I would show off by keeping up with him for 5 miles. His encouragement and pride beamed when he told friends how I could run. To this day, I thank him for instilling in me the importance of exercise for both the mind and the body. Cheers Dad!Kate Lueras
My father, who fought in the South Pacific during WWII and was awarded a Bronze Star for bravery, went into the service as a buck private and nearly 4 years later came out a buck private. When I asked him why, after all those years of service, he didn’t advance through the ranks, he responded “I never wanted to be in a position where I had to order a fellow soldier to do something that might get him killed.”
Who would argue that? My father, however, didn’t shirk his own responsibilities.
After he died at age 94, I found his Bronze Star award citation while cleaning out one of his drawers. It reads: “Given the mission of forward observer for a regiment of guerillas driving toward Ipo Dam, in Luzon, Cpl. Checco (he received the promotion near the very end of the war after being awarded the Bronze Star) and his party started for the front carrying heavy loads of radios and batteries on their backs.“ The party was subjected to severe artillery, mortar and rifle fire much of the way. The route necessitated travel over rocky mountain trails so rugged that at times it was necessary to climb cliffs with the aid of ropes. “While conducting artillery fire, Cpl. Checco and his comrades became aware of enemy foot troops too close to their position to be fired on by friendly artillery.
“The firm determination, excellent initiative and courage demonstrated by Cpl Checco in this action set him aside as an excellent combat soldier.” My father, and countless other Americans, sacrificed much, many giving their very lives to preserve our nation. I doubt many of them would recognize it now. We are at war again. This time with ourselves.
Happy Father’s Day, Pop. And thanks for everything!Larry Checco
My Dad worked hard to make us think for ourselves and become independent and at the same time he has always and is always there to support each of us. I remember him asking me to figure out making airline reservations for a family trip when I was a young girl, no internet or computer, just sitting on the phone and organizing a family vacation for 6. Figuring it out has served me well throughout my professional and personal life. There is always an answer and a way to navigate, a means to an end, we just have to figure it out.
With 4 adult children, their spouses, 11 grandchildren, their spouses, and 5 great grandchildren, …the love he and our mother shared along with their family first mantra created an unbreakable bond between the 28 of us that we continue to treasure. He and our mother have given each of us the greatest blessing, each other. Happy Father’s Day, Dad, Bubba, Lew!Julie Carruthers
I deeply loved my grandpa – more than any other family member. He returned from World War ll, having survived on potato peelings, battle scarred and broken in body but not in spirit. He was my childhood hero and I always wanted to spend time with him.
I will always recall how much he trusted me. On one occasion, he was hospitalized. On our family’s first visit, as we were leaving his room, he called me over and whispered that he wanted me to look after his wallet, his worldly belongings. As he did not trust anyone else. You can imagine how that solitary act of trust left such an indelible impression on a child of 10.
Being a seaside resort, our hometown of Blackpool, England attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. My parents owned a small hotel. One day they had over-booked, and the room where my brother Steve (a year younger than I) and I slept was given to visitors. We were “condemned” to the cloakroom – barely measuring 4 feet by 4 feet – for the night. My grandpa returned from work late and found us trying to sleep in these cramped quarters. As he hung up his coat, he exploded. I had never before seen him angry, actually he was ballistic. He aroused my parents and demanded that a bed be found for us immediately!
I also looked forward to New Year’s Day as it was his custom to take us, from an early age, for a walk on this special day. Each January 1st, he encouraged us to look for people with as many noses as the days of the year. We looked in vain for people with numerous noses. It was many years before we solved his conundrum!
I will always lovingly remember Hughie – he always insisted that we call him by his first name.Barrie Street
After my father’s death, I would lie in bed at night ruminating on all our encounters, especially the most recent. Was it the last time he beat me that I told him I wished he were dead? Was it some previous time? Did he really respond by saying “Someday you may get your wish,” or did I just imagine it? When he beat me with his belt did I often say, “I hate you!” or was it only once? Did he really praise the fact that I loved “Peanuts” comics to our family friends? Did he ever once say, “I love you?” I was haunted.
His sudden and permanent exit at the unlikely age of 41 taught me at nine that death is an ever-present possibility. We never know where or when it might strike. Unlike lightning, it can be on the sunniest of days. The weather, the place, the circumstances, with others or without, clothed or unclothed, fed or hungry, anxious or at peace, prepared or not, all these conditions are irrelevant. Death will strike. Any second, any minute, any day. In the wake of someone being disappeared, somehow beamed up to another place and time, those of us who remain become, like the aptly named TV series, The Leftovers.
Excerpt from At Death Do Us PartFrederick Marx